LAST August, I was lying on a beach near Biarritz, contemplating my very Scottish lack of a sun tan, when I took a phone call.
It was from Adam Shaw, a former colleague from the BBC 2 business show, Working Lunch.
Would I like to join a new DAB radio channel dedicated to investments and consumer money, broadcasting throughout London and across the UK, including Scotland, on the internet?
I wasn’t that interested initially – a short walk to the sea seemed far preferable at the time.
Adam explained it was being set up and funded by Gavin Oldham, chair of the Wider Share Ownership Council and the retail stockbroking firm, The Share Centre, with a good reputation in the City and a burning desire to make money issues more understandable for people.
I rapidly changed my mind, arrived on the first of September, and nine weeks later we launched, a new talk radio voice on the broadcasting landscape.
New talk radio stations are as rare as hen’s teeth. A quick use of Google tells me that LBC launched in 1973, Radio 5 became live in 1994, followed by TalkSport in 1995.
There was also talk 107, launched in Edinburgh, in 2006, but gone two years later.
So what is our USP?
Gavin would say that it’s our desire to ‘walk alongside people’.
We cover business and finance in great detail and for 15 live hours each day, and 24 in total. We always try to take our audience with us and not speak down to them. We are here to demystify and make sense of all things financial for consumers and investors throughout the UK.
Getting to air was a salutary process. The studios were built by radio veterans, Westbrook, and finished days before we launched, so piloting time was minimal.
New staff joined right up to D-Day. Thankfully, having been part of three previous media start-ups, I realised that endless piloting can be counter-productive. The best way to learn is by making the output for a real audience who feed back into the improvement process.
Adam Shaw, also a former business slot presenter for the Today Programme, helped make our short, humorous ‘jargonbusters’, explaining potentially arcane financial terms. And our company profiles, which explain what companies in the nether regions of the stock market actually do.
November 4th 2014 was Share launch day, and as anyone who has been involved with the birth of a radio station will tell you, it was simply momentous.
Actually, hearing the voice of the station as we arrived on air, with our own unique culture intact, was amazing.
Our team of financial and radio specialists had done us proud. In the early weeks, we had our fair share of technicals, but the potential shone through.
The hard work has never stopped since. Our 30-strong team will tell you that making live radio sound accessible and listenable without the luxury of music to hide behind takes an enormous amount of energy.
It’s up to our audience to decide if we are delivering, but we have an incredibly diverse range of high-quality guests who are getting easier to book, our commercial sponsors, such as Henderson Global Investors, like us and the harshest critics of all – the City – are listening.
Radio isn’t just about listening to the radio these days.
People listen to us online at www.shareradio.co.uk and our Listen Live button is easy to find on the home page.
We have a very simple to use downloadable App which allows you to listen on the move.
And we are on Radioplayer and Tunein, the two main listen live radio Apps.
We share a digital Audioboom copy of every interview with our guests as a thank you for appearing, and, soon, we will have our own searchable system for downloadable podcasts.
Our unofficial audience reach is an encouraging 50,000 listeners per week, and the hour-long show which we make with the Mail Online’s ‘This is Money’ team hit 300,000 listens for last week’s podcast.
All of which gives us hope that the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, will smile upon Share Radio as we wait to hear if our AM London licence bid has been successful, and later in early 2016 if we are able to demystify finance across UK, including Scotland, as part of our Orion/Babcock D2 multiplex licence bid.
Donald Leggatt is editor-in-chief of Share Radio. Previously, he worked as a senior financial journalist at BBC television for ten years, set up The Money Channel as editorial consultant and was associate editor at Cantos Communications, the digital investor relations division of the Brunswick Group.
A version of this article appeared on radiotoday.co.uk.